A name, fame and entropy

à‚  Dr Jacob Klimstra
Managing Editor

We, the readers and authors of this magazine, generally believe in the benefits of local generation. We talk about cogeneration and on-site generation, give conference presentations, sit in committees that promote the techniques, and sometimes write a – hopefully interesting – article for COSPP. We have the habit of saying that there is no such thing as waste heat, since our machines ensure that the heat released is available for further use. Yet we also know that every word we speak turns into low-quality heat. Sound waves created by our voices naturally end up in the disorderly motion of molecules which we call entropy. Every trip we make to tell the world about our wonderful solutions means that fuel is turned into a chaotic form of useless energy.

In the past, it was believed that the written word would last for ages and would keep its value. However, nowadays we are bombarded with written text, either on paper or on our screens. Most of it is only of temporary value, if it has any. I am aware of the fact that this editor’s letter will also quickly follow the route to entropy. A fraction of the readers might glance through it. Most subscribers will concentrate on one or two interesting articles in this magazine, read a few advertisements to keep up to date with the available products, and that is it.

When I began my job as a young researcher, I believed that I had to put all of the technical and scientific magazines that I received into a filing system. Later, the huge piles of magazines in my attic, and even in the hallway of our home, became a real nuisance to my wife, who had noticed that I hardly touched them afterwards. So, during our latest move three years ago, I decided to send them for recycling. These days, storing all of the written words that are produced into archives and data centres has become ultimately impossible. Yet, in hindsight, I am very happy with all of the spoken presentations I have attended and the written articles I have read. Communication between peers is an excellent way of learning. Without communication, it would be difficult to learn about the benefits of technical solutions; without it, the wheel would have to be reinvented too many times.

A short message a few weeks ago in the Energy Matters newsletter triggered the subject of this editor’s letter. It was announced that Ton van der Does had passed away.

Many European cogenerators will remember Ton as a unique prophet of combined heat and power. In 1987, at Projectbureau Warmte Kracht (PWK), Ton started an extensive promotion campaign for cogeneration in The Netherlands. No industry, utility, commercial enterprise, bureaucrat or politician could evade him. Enthusiastic and persuasive as he was, his activities led to great results. Cogeneration received top priority in the energy sector. PWK later became Cogen Nederland.

And Ton did not stop there. He was the driving force in starting Cogen Europe, and helped to set up many European national cogeneration associations. Ton had a real name with fame in the energy world, and I remember that he had great difficulty in retiring from his job and relinquishing his identity as Mr Cogen. Now, almost 15 years after his retirement, one can hardly find his name on Google. Yet I will remember Ton with admiration and gratitude, although his name and fame are fading away into entropy.

PS: Visit www.cospp.com to see regular news updates, the current issue of the magazine in full, and an archive of articles from previous issues. It’s the same website address to sign-up for our weekly e-newsletter too.

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